This term, Treated Right are running a series of blog posts called ‘True Cost.’ We will be exploring the human cost of so many of the products we buy in our day-to-day lives. From coffee to cosmetics, our shopping decisions have far reaching consequences for millions around the world. But how can we shop in a way that fights against the abuse of millions in the trade of human lives? How can our choices in shops help to change the lives of the 27 million people trapped in slavery?
I felt like I had drawn the short straw when I was left to write the blog post on cosmetics. Coffee and chocolate would be fine- I just buy Fairtrade. I would love to talk about fashion- I’m a walking advert for charity shops! But cosmetics is an entirely different thing. It’s not that I intentionally don’t buy ethical cosmetics, but I had just never even considered that cosmetics could be linked to human slavery.
In the UK alone, we spend £5 billion a year on cosmetics and toiletries, if we can change the way we shop for cosmetics and push for fairer and more ethical brands we can make a huge difference.
The first I thought about how cosmetics had a connection to modern day slavery was through calculating my slavery footprint on slaveryfootprint.org/. One of the questions was about bathroom products. I had always thought that I didn’t really have that many and therefore that my impact would have been insignificant, looking closer, I discovered that I had far more than I realized; and that many of my products had horrific consequences elsewhere.
I started investigating further into make-up and slavery and discovered about Mica, a mineral used in lots of make up which gives it its sparkle. Much of this (around 60%) is mined in India and many of those mining it are children often trapped in forced labour. In fact, an estimated 20,000 children work in Mica mines. Have a look at the articles linked at the bottom of the page to find out more about Mica in Make-up at the bottom of the blog.
But what can we do? With so many people involved and many of these mines currently illegal it feels very difficult to know what to do. Buying from brands which actively source Mica from verified mines which do not use child or forced labour is certainly a good step. Such brands include L’Oréal, one of the few mainstream brands which have this, which has recently implemented a policy regarding Mica on their website. However, progress is still too slow, and more pressure is required in other ways. Pushing this as a key issue for governments is required for policy to change and stricter controls to be placed on the mining of this mineral.
The best first step for us all is to find out more about our own specific slavery footprint, work out your own at slaveryfootprint.org/ and learn more about ethical shopping at https://thegoodshoppingguide.com/
Learn more about Mica and its impact using these links:
Written by Rebekah (Boo) Hinton